Everyone likes to throw the term “Best Practices” around in the car business. Whether it has to do with sales, delivering a car, answering the phone or working an Internet car sales lead. Right now I want to talk about Internet car sales best practices because when it comes selling cars and the Internet things are constantly changing and not always for the good.

Yesterdays Internet Car Sales Practices

Only a few short years ago the Internet car sales best practices were as simple as receiving an Internet lead, making a phone call, sending an email that’s tells them why they should do business with the dealership and invite them in or simply to confirm an appointment made on the telephone. At that time the Internet was a new way for the dealership to sell more cars. Leads may inquire about a vehicle listed on your website and whether it’s still available. Then the ISM calls the customer back and tells them it’s still available and sets an appointment. The majority of the showroom traffic came via Fresh Ups. Internet appointments accounted for less than 20% of the visitors to the showroom and if you were lucky 8% to 12% of the dealerships sales.

Internet Car Sales Best PracticesNow lets fast-forward to today and what I consider to be Internet car sales best practices. Over 90% of car buyers are using the Internet to shop for new or used cars and also to decide where to go to make that purchase. It used to be that most car buyers went to their local dealership and bought their car, sometimes they might visit another dealership, but more often than not they would buy locally.

Dealerships can’t count on customers being loyal to their dealership any more. Even customers that bought several cars from a local dealer and get all their service work done at the same dealer will still shop several dealerships when it comes time to buy a car today. Some of these customers will get a price from several dealers and return to their local dealer to purchase their car as long as the dealer will beat or match the price and others will just buy where they got the lowest price almost regardless of vicinity.  Most Internet car sales best practices can be tossed out the window today, because it’s a jungle out there.

Best Practices for Internet Car Sales are Constantly Changing

In order to stay in the game and keep selling cars Internet car sales best practices require much more than sending email templates, making phone calls to bad phone numbers and promising to give serious car buyers a great deal once they visit the dealership. We need to treat every single Internet lead as if they were standing in front of us. That means answering questions, acknowledging their concerns and providing the information they request. If they ask for a new car price you need to send them a price or at least give them a price on the phone. Recent research tells us that at least 64% of Internet car shoppers that don’t receive a price as requested disqualify any dealership that doesn’t respond with a price.

So if you are not providing your prospective Internet car buyers a price quote as requested it’s like deleting 64% of your Internet leads. But wait, if that’s not enough you need to have a respectable online reputation or at least better than your competitors. You need to know what is going on in your area, which includes how other dealers are pricing their Internet leads. Plus Internet best practices require a quality website that provides numerous pictures, specifications and car buyers tools such as payment calculators, up to date manufacturer incentives and easy to use contacts forms for requesting more information. It is way too easy for a customer to click their mouse on the next dealership and leave you in the dust.

So when it comes right down to Internet car sales best practices it’s all about what works and what brings customers into the dealership. Could I list out a step-by-step procedure for converting an Internet car buying lead to a sold car? Of course I could, but it be nothing more than an ideal scenario or fairy tale that would only work only about 4% of the time. To document and record every step and every possible scenario and course of action it would consume and entire book. A book that would be very boring and more than anyone could possibly comprehend. Internet car sales require the same type of experience, common sense, people reading and intuition that it takes to sell a fresh up that walks on to the dealership lot.

The big difference is that the ISM must be able to use their car salesman skills without being face to face with the potential car buyer. They need to try different things, try different approaches, provide value and appear to be knowledgeable. They must have the right price at the right time and use the right medium such as email, phone or text.  They must be prompt and responsive without being pushy or judgmental. They must be a car sales professional; and do what it takes to turn an Internet lead into a sold car. That’s what you call Internet car sales best practices; it’s about what works today.

Later Fresh Lead in the CRM


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Internet Sales Manager

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